When Roger Durling was
named director of the Santa Barbara
International Film Festival
a little more than four years ago,
the collective response was, “Who the hell is he?” durling.jpg But now, after four straight years of
great film programming, increasingly famous faces, big money
sponsors, and genuine attempts to reach out to the Santa Barbara
community with locals-only programs, the collective question tends
to be, “How long until someone steals him?”

Well, he hasn’t quite been stolen, but at least the
international film world is finally taking major notice of
Durling’s accomplishments. That was clearly the message last week
when the Cannes Film
selected Durling to be the programming director of its
American Pavilion. The Pavilion is
the communication and hospitality area for Americans at the French
film fest where panels are held, deals get made, and press,
celebrities, and fans hang out.

But lucky for us, Cannes is in May, the
is in late January-early February, and lest we be fearful
that “The
” is on the way out, he pledged, “I’m not fucking going
anywhere. I love it here too much. I started something here and I’m
not leaving until it’s finished—or until you guys are finished with
me.” If anything, Durling, who has written
The Big Picture column
over the past couple years for
The Indy, believes
that “the profile of our festival is only going to be

In fact, Durling didn’t even apply for this job at Cannes, which
he declared “the mothership of all festivals.” He explained, “I
can’t believe it. They actually called me. It’s a huge honor.” He
finds it “hysterical” that he’ll be briefly trading the American Riviera of Santa
for the original Riviera of
Southern France
. His task will be programming the panels,
Q&As, and conversations under the big AmPav tent, which sits adjacent to the red
carpet and the main Cannes theater.

And Durling won’t be the only SBIFF face heading to Cannes. He’s
enrolling the help of SBIFF public
relations guru Carol Marshall
as well as the young talents of
UCSB grad Jeremy
, who was SBIFF ‘007’s head programmer. The trio will be
heading to Cannes, France for the entire month of May, and will be
working hardest during the May 16 to 24 run of the fest.

It appears to be a win-win-win: good for our own fest, good for
Cannes, and great for Durling, who’s cache in Hollywoodland only
seems to be skyrocketing higher. Let’s just cross our fingers that,
as he continually promises, he won’t be leaving Santa Barbara’s
shores anytime soon.

For more on Cannes, go here.
For more on the American Pavilion, go
. For Roger Durling’s Film Geek Confidential Blog, go here. And for The Indy‘s
coverage of SBIFF ‘007, go


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